The Aristotelian peripatetic school linked the act of moving physically across a space with the development of a philosophical method.
Paying homage to her origins, Olympia Polymeni has actualized the concept, inviting the viewers to a walk into her artistic practice.
In the labyrinthine corridors of the “Old Print Works” building, location of the Ort Café, the visitor is immediately cast as the show's first actor, having to operate a decisive choice about movement and direction.
In the first room, red lines of color bleed through the whole length of the paper as open wounds.
The paintings were realized letting the acrylic running on a small tablet, in an apparently free process whose movement was however under the artist's control since the beginning. The rich, saturated color of the works offers a dramatic contrast with its clean lines, and hints to a royal welcoming attribute, idea that will be re-proposed in a corridor upstairs.
There, a sculpture, which was transported on the site in a small box - almost a funerary urn for fragments of imagination –, has been posed on the red pavement.
Stripped of its original hubris, this setting aims to overcome the explicit dichotomy between the red-carpet glamour and the mundane decadence of the box, and to inspire instead a breath of curiosity toward life’s possibilities.
The choice of Plasticine as the artwork’s material is not casual; Polymeni wanted to render the plasticity of classical sculptures and of anthropomorphic bones through a medium that was cheap and disposable, as human flesh seems to be considered in this contemporary society.
Plasticine was chosen also for being prone to endure, and show, the distress of travelling to Birmingham from London, where the artist’s studio is located.
Leaving a mark on the sculpture through movement was meant as a way to transform it from factual object to artwork, in the same way as in the peripatetic school thoughts were shaped into philosophy.
Walking through the building while looking for the artworks, the viewers become allies and conspirers to an almost voyeuristic act of discovery.
The flesh of these bones and blood are the viewers themselves, and pushing them out of a comfort zone, as in a transient memento mori, is a reminder that everything -art, people- has to die, but for now it is very much alive.
Curating and text by Silvia Caso
10 white kilos, plasticine, 2012